PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – On fire.
That’s how one could describe the Northern Arizona Suns Sunday afternoon when they matched up against the team with the best record in the NBA Development League, the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The Suns made the most three-pointers in team history, finishing 17-of-35 (.486) from beyond the arc, as they beat the D-Fenders 117-113 at the Prescott Valley Event Center.
The Suns (18-18) moved back to .500 thanks to their hot shooting. NAZ shot 40-of-84 (.476) from the field and made four more three-pointers than their previous team-high of 13 made threes against the D-Fenders in Los Angeles on Nov. 23. That game went to double-overtime.
This marked a huge win not only for the Suns, but for the rest of the league as well. Besides the Suns moving a game closer to the best team in the Pacific Division, now trailing by 9.0 games, the Raptors 905 is now tied with Los Angeles leading the D-League in the overall standings. Los Angeles is now 28-10 while the 905 is 27-9. The Oklahoma City Blue (28-12) also moved just a game within the D-Fenders atop the Western Conference leaderboard.
This marked the first time all season the D-Fenders have lost consecutive road games.
“I’m very proud of our guys. (The D-Fenders) came – they scored 44 [points] in the third quarter, and they took all the momentum. We could have just laid down, but our guys fought and they competed,” Suns head coach Ty Ellis said. “So hats off to our guys, we beat a really good team.”
Askia Booker led the charge for the Suns today, scoring 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, to go along with five rebounds and six assists. He also made both of his free throws with 5.4 seconds left in what had been a two-point game to seal it.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball in the opening frame, and with not much action going on, the Suns were happy to head to the huddle up 22-21. Northern Arizona exploded in the second quarter, shooting 13-for-18 (.722) from the field and 5-for-8 (.625) from distance, scoring the most points they have in the second quarter all season, winning the frame 41-27. The great 12 minutes was capped off by a Shaquille Harrison 27-foot three-point make at the halftime buzzer.
It all turned around in the third quarter, however, as the D-Fenders came out with passion. They quickly changed what was a 15-point deficit into a three-point game in just over four minutes. They scored more points in a single quarter than any other opponent Northern Arizona has ever faced, winning the third period 44-22 on 18-of-26 (.692) shooting. They also turned it over just a single time in the frame, and entered the fourth quarter up by seven.
The Suns responded by making 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and turning the ball over just twice in the last 12 minutes to win the game.
Five different Suns players scored 17+ points. Elijah Millsap tallied 18 points and nine rebounds, Xavier Silas scored 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting from distance, Josh Gray had 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from the three-point line, five rebounds and six assists, Harrison contributed 17 points, along with Booker, who put up 22.
Gray and Harrison did everything today off the bench, as did Michael Bryson, who tallied nine points and four blocks.
Starting forward Alex Davis scored 10 points to round out the double-digit scoring for NAZ.
Los Angeles’ David Nwaba led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-13 (.769) shooting, to go with seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Josh Magette tallied 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, six rebounds and five assists.
Vander Blue, who entered the game third in the league in scoring with 25.2 points per game, managed just 15 points on 4-of-17 shooting. He had scored 26 and 31 in the first two wins for Los Angeles over NAZ earlier this season, respectively.
Northern Arizona will continue this brutal four-game stretch of playing the best three teams in the league on Wednesday, as the 905 comes to town for a 6:30 p.m. MT game at PVEC. Los Angeles gets a break as they don’t play again until Friday, where they will get their chance at revenge against the Suns at PVEC at 7 p.m. MT.